A couple are on a road trip somewhere, everything is going great, they’re telling jokes, har de har har, isn’t this nice etc. Then they get a flat tire and an insane fuckhead turns up – end of road trip.
There’s the plot in a nutshell. I sent that to the distributor but they said they wouldn’t use it as the blurb – bloody frigid. Anyway, there’s not much of a plot to “Blood River”, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve got into massive axe-wielding arguments with people that say a certain film is rubbish because it has a crap ‘storyline’ or the ‘storyline’ was too simple. ‘Storyline’ is such a nonsense word and the lack of a ‘good’ one means nothing – “Jaws” had a simple storyline, so did “Alien” and “Predator” – and they were all amazing. So ‘storyline’ means nothing. Stop bloody saying it.
There, I’ve got that off my back. So yes, there’s not much of a ‘storyline’ to “Blood River”, but that’s not the point, and even though most of the film comprises talking/arguments/crying, against the odds, it doesn’t actually ever become boring. That’s because its simplicity allows it to play out without any pretension (until maybe, the end). So what’s beneath this simple exterior? Well, the aforementioned ‘fuckhead’ is clearly a psycho of sorts (you see him forcing a woman to slit her wrists in the bath at the beginning) so when he appears on the scene you know some crazy shit is about to go down – which it does, eventually. He’s also a bloody know-it-all, and is constantly telling this young couple things about themselves that only they would know, gradually revealing that he knows a great deal more about them than he first let on. Things are getting scary and mysterious you see.
And scary and mysterious they do get. Even more. Well mysterious at least – the scare-level stays pretty much level throughout. But the mystery level goes through the roof – for our fuckhead is far more than you may have had yourself believe at the beginning. We’ll leave it there though, as to reveal more would be to ruin the ‘storyline’ (sheesh) – but let’s just say it’s not as simple as it first appeared.
As I said, before the film really gets into the swing of things, there’s a lot of talking, which certainly sounds a dull prospect. However, we’re lucky, as for a film with a relatively low-budget, we’re treated to some above-average performances from the three main players. Fuckhead (Andrew Howard) is impressively intense and displays an underlying tension and threat with skill, and is easily the stand out actor of the cast, but the young couple (Tess Panzer and Ian Duncan) both hold their own up against Howard’s enigmatic presence.
Behind the camera there’s also a great deal of talent. Adam Mason directs with subtlety and brooding menace, whilst the cinematography perfectly captures the barren landscape and sweaty, gritty feel of the elemental onslaught. The whole film feels grubby – I had to have a shower after the film, I felt so dirty (but then again, I had been watching the film whilst writhing around in my home-made mud pit and shitting in my nappy).
Overall, I’d highly recommend “Blood River”, especially for fans of ‘weirdo-turns-up-while-someone-is-in-the-middle-of-nowhere’ films like “The Hitcher”, “Reeker” and “Legion” because it certainly lives up to that particular sub-genre.
Didn’t think it would though. Thought it would be shit.
Adam Mason (director) / Adam Mason, Simon Boyes (screenplay)
CAST: Andrew Howard … Joseph
Tess Panzer … Summer
Ian Duncan … Clark